Tests and Composition Exercises

1 Let the pupils exchange composition papers and see how many and what useless words have been used– how many words that convey nothing new.

2 How many words that obscure the meaning.

3 How many words out of their usual place, and whether this alteration makes the statement in any way more intersting or more energetic.

4 Whether a sentence is ambiguous; whether it really means more than one thing or more than the writer intended; whether it can be so read as to mean something different.

5 Whether there is something clear on paper, but ambiguous if spoken aloud.

–Ezra Pound (again from ABC of Reading(see previous post for bibliographic info))


Day Four

Coming round again to the starting-point.
Language is a means of communication. To charge language with meaning to the utmost possible degree, we have as stated, the three chief means:

I throwing the object (fixed or moving)on to the visual imagination.

II inducing emotional correlations by the sound and rhythm of the speech.

III inducing both of the effects by stimulating the associations (intellectual or emotional) that have remained in the receiver’s consciousness in relation to the actual words or word groups employed.

(phanopoeia, melopoeia, logopoeia)

Incompetence will show in the use of too many words.

Quoted from: Pound, Ezra. ABC of Reading. New York: New Directions, 1934 (as are all of the Pound quotes so far).


“Aware of the great environmental changes going on around him, the serious artist, according to Pound, sees the primary end of his art in the creative exploration of his ordinarily invisible environmnent. He invents new artistic means such as the ‘image’ and the ‘ideogram;’ means, that is, which permit the creation of exploratory anti-environments while at the same time involving the reader in an act of co-creation, thus actively providing him with an indespensible perceptual and mental training.” Nänny, Max. Ezra Pound: Poetics for an Electric Age (Bern: Francke, 1973)

 Interestingly enough, I’m intruigued by Nänny’s view that Pound was writing to/from/about/through the lens of being in the electric age. For the most part, his radical view of an oral modern culture in the writings of Pound are informed by the controversial ideas put forth by Marshall McLuhan. I must admit though, it makes sense to me so far that we incorporate our present environment within the structures of those previously learnt forms, but then again, I have yet to finish the book. So maybe what makes sense today will be nonsensical tomorrow, just in a different form (if that makes sense).


Day Three

 “Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.” –Ezra Pound


…and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeths. On my reading list for the weekend. In the introduction Catherine Seelye says:

Though there is very little to be found in this record of Pound’s literary influence on Olson, there is reason to believe that his visits with Pound figured in the transformation of Olson from a minor prose writer to a poet writing in the tradition of Pound and Williams. For in Olson’s notebooks of the period, we see him almost frantically searching for an identity, for an impulse, for a focus, for a framework strong enough to support his “special view of history.” And in Olson’s “Cantos” on Pound, we see him during this same period face to face with perhaps the most potent literary influence of his life. Out of these forces came Maximus, Olson’s “tumescent I.” Somewhere “among the ruins,” Charles Olson found his poetic voice.

Last term, I lingered among this inspiring poet as I studied Olson’s Projective Verse for an essay and seminar on Daphne Marlatt, and I found Pound’s influence in more ways than one, but to me this was understandable, as we naturally study those that come before us, don’t we?

For example (a quote from Olson):

1) A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it (he will have some several causations), by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader. . . . the poem itself must, at all points, be a high energy-construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge. So: how is the poet to accomplish same energy, how is he, what is the process by which a poet get in, at all points energy at least the equivalent of the energy which propelled him in the first place, yet an energy which is peculiar to verse alone and which will be, obviously, also different from the energy which the reader, because he is a third term, will take away? This is the problem which any poet who departs from closed form is specially confronted by. And it involves a whole series of new recognitions. From the moment he ventures into FIELD COMPOSITION–puts himself in the open–he can go by no track other than the one the poem under hand declares, for itself. Thus he has to behave, and be, instant by instant, aware. . . .

(2) . . . the principle, the law which presides conspicuously over such composition, and, when obeyed, is the reason why a projective poem can come into being. It is this: FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT. (Or so it got phrased by one, R. Creeley, and it makes absolute sense to me, with this possible corollary, that right form, in any given poem, is the only and exclusively possible extension of content under hand.)

(3) Now (3) the process of the thing, how the principle can be made so to shape the energies that the form is accomplished. And I think it can be boiled down to one statement (first pounded into my head by Edward Dahlberg): ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION.

Olson, of course is talking about a more open form, or fluidity to poetry, and that includes, sound, image, sense, syntax, speech, and mainly the breath. There is so much to linger over in what he writes. I’ve reread this at least a dozen times in the past few months, and strangely enough, still find something interesting and stimulating in the essay, in what he says.

A Pound A Day:

Day Two

NEVERTHELESS you still charge words with meaning mainly in three ways, called phanopoeia, melopoeia, logopoeia. You use a word to throw a visual image on to the reader’s imagination, or you charge it by sound, or you use groups of words to do this.

Thirdly, you take the greater risk of using the word in some special relation to ‘usage,’ that is, to the kind of context in which the reader expects, or is accustomed, to find it.–Ezra Pound


Day one:

“An abstract or general statement is GOOD if it be ultimately found to correspond with the facts.

But no layman can tell at sight whether it is good or bad.”–Ezra Pound


According to Anne McDonald, there are still a few spots available for this:

Release and enhance your creativity using the tools of improvisation. Learn how to be fully in the moment and open to all possibilities. Regain spontaneity and develop your sense of play (essential for creativity).

For writers, expand your narrative and character skills; actors learn to be alive in the moment and free to make many different character choices; teachers, facilitators and presenters understand and enhance your ability to present and communicate.

Be authentic, spontaneous and allow your impulses to lead you in new and different directions. Increase your mental and physical flexibility while having fun (100 laughs is equal to 15 minutes of exercise!). Enhance your leadership and team skills.

Anne McDonald studied improv at the Second City Training Centre in Toronto and has taught improv workshops across Saskatchewan. She has an MA in Psychology and is a published fiction author.

Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre (13th Ave and Retallack, Regina)
Wednesdays, Jan 23 to March 19 (no class Feb 20)
7:00 – 9:30

INFO 546-2427


Gustav Klimt movie, Klimt, finally came out on DVD this week (it stars John Malkovich as Klimt). I rented it immediately and watched it the same afternoon–hoping to see a portrayal of the relationship between Klimt and Schiele. I liked how much the guy playing Schiele really looked like him, but I found his character portrayal was too much of a pose; by that I mean that he imitates the self-portraits drawn by Schiele in his mannerisms, and while certainly recognizable, didn’t give me a sense of the person, only a sense of the representation of the person, if that makes sense. While I was a little disappointed with the biographical information, I liked the allegorical and symbolic manner in which the film unfolded the events of Klimt’s life. Snippets of events were shown through a dream/flashback sequence, but that style also lent the film a disjointed though surreal quality. I plan to watch it again tonight, hoping to glean other tidbits of Austrian, and Klimt’s life that I missed the first time, or at least to better understand the symbolism in the movie. Maybe it’s not just the movie I should be looking at again. Maybe everything about our lives is symbolic, and so often we forget to read the signs.